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Looking To Make IT A Revenue Driver, Quintiles Turns To The Cloud

Pharma services provider, No. 4 in our 2011 InformationWeek 500 ranking, offers Infosario suite of analytics and other cloud-based tools.

At first blush, pharmaceutical services market leader Quintiles might seem an odd company to offer cloud computing services. Quintiles manages clinical drug trials, training pharmaceutical salespeople and marketers, and providing consulting services to drug companies.

But Quintiles was founded by biostatisticians, and its lifeblood is its more than 3 petabytes of data. There's regulatory data, data on clinical trials, commercial data that can help assess a new drug's potential, medical data, and more. CIO Richard Thomas calls IT Quintiles' "nervous system," critical to any new product or service the company offers.

Now IT wants to generate revenue directly, launching an online service called Infosario that bundles the software and hardware portfolio the company uses to do things like manage clinical trials into a suite of subscription cloud services. It's not a leap, Thomas says, because IT already works closely with drugmakers. "We're already very much in front of the curtain on the main stage, working with the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world," he says.

Infosario, which launched in June, stitches together Quintiles' systems for managing pharmaceutical processes, doing analytics, and storing and managing data. The suite can support drugmakers from the time they conceive a compound to its commercialization. The goal is to help pharma companies safely get new drugs to market faster--and create a new growth opportunity for Quintiles.

Inside Infosario

Drugmakers create data at every step of the clinical development process, but too often the data isn't available in time for cost-effective decisions to be made--say, to flag that a clinical trial is falling short of qualified candidates or showing adverse drug effects. Infosario's analytics system, Insights and Analytics, provides a Web portal for customers to see data in real time, drawing on diverse sources that can include labs, electrocardiograms, patient forms, and interactive voice response systems used to track medication dosages given to patients. All that can help, for example, a company decide whether to keep spending on a test that looks like it's failing.

Top 10 IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500
Top 10 IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500
(click image for slideshow)

Insights and Analytics also helps companies understand where a proposed clinical trial fits within the universe of other tests, providing data on past and current studies and suggesting where new studies could be run around the world.

The second piece of Infosario is pay-as-you-go access to systems such as a clinical trial management system, a clinical trial master file system for document management, data integration services, and product safety tracking. The third element is data warehousing, archiving, and management.

At the application layer, Quintiles uses Oracle's health science software to capture research data, and its interactive voice and response systems collect other clinical trial data. It also uses Siebel's clinical trial management system, Tibco Spotfire's visual analytics capabilities, and Oracle's business intelligence suite, among other technologies. Insights and Analytics is delivered through enterprise portals, primarily Oracle WebCenter.

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